Published by Berkley on January 16th 2018
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London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .
A Treacherous Curse is the third installment of the Veronica Speedwell series written by Deanna Raybourn. It is fun, it is fantastic, and if you haven’t started reading this series now is your chance!
Veronica Speedwell is a lepidopterist, someone who studies butterflies. Raised by her “aunts”, she has an interesting parentage (which you will need to read the other books to find out about because I am certainly not going to spoil it for you). Revelstoke Templeton-Vane is a historian, also with interesting parentage, a bit of a temper, and a somewhat shadowy, scandalous past. In the first book in the series, A Perilous Undertaking, they are thrown together through unforeseen circumstances and through the course of their most interesting acquaintance manage to become investigative partners and dare I say…friends.
In A Treacherous Curse, a priceless diadem discovered on an archaeological dig in an Egyptian tomb has gone missing, along with the photographer that was on the discovery expedition, who just so happens to be a former friend and colleague of Stoker (and oh boy, is that a story!). Everyone suspects the photographer may have taken the jewel, however, he has since disappeared under suspicious circumstances, leaving behind his wife, and putting Stoker under suspicion. Veronica and Stoker are brought in to investigate on the side, not realizing they will be dredging up much of Stoker’s past and possibly incurring the wrath of the mummy’s curse.
I absolutely love the characters of Veronica and Stoker. They make me laugh out loud. The best part of all of the books has been the relationship between the two. I should mention that these books are mysteries, not romance. This is not to say there isn’t any romance or potential for romance in them. If I was a betting woman I would say that at some point Raybourn has intentions to get Veronica and Stoker together because, well, they are perfect for each other, but this is a slow burn romance of the best kind. It is like watching your favorite TV non-couple that you wish were a couple, discover just how much they like each other and slowly gravitate towards each other over several seasons.
I also love the characters because they are just fun. Veronica is very no-nonsense and probably the opposite of what you would think a Victorian lady would be like. She is sassy, she is experienced, if you know what I mean, and she is very much in charge of her own life. Stoker is an aristocrat who never really fit in with his family. After an expedition accident leaves him injured and scarred, he wears an eyepatch and adds the flair of a gold hoop earring giving him the appearance of a hot pirate! Who doesn’t love a hot pirate??? And I love the role reversal in the fact that Veronica is so worldly when it comes to sex, and Stoker, not so much. In fact, he is kind of a prude. On many occasions Veronica purposely makes Stoker blush by teasing him mercilessly and he is such an easy mark.
The mystery in the book is good. I didn’t actually guess who the culprit was until later in the book. Raybourn has a super quick paced writing style, which I love. You can sit down with one of these books and power through it in a day. She even sometimes throws in some old-style language that keeps you in mind of the time period. I admit there were several words I had to look up and every time the dictionary said they were archaic. So, I highly recommend this book, especially if you like a quick, easy mystery, but I do recommend starting from the beginning of the series because you learn things in those books that are important to this story.
And if you are so inclined, Deanna Raybourn just gave a great interview on the podcast Smart Bitches, Trashy books (Sleuthing, Victorian Women, and Dick Jokes: A Conversation with Deanna Raybourn). After reading these books and hearing her speak I am definitely inclined to go back and read her other books!
Check out Deanna Raybourn’s personal author website at www.deannaraybourn.com.